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Jul 17, 2006 08:49 PM

So Which TV Food Shows Should I Watch?

Ok, so we know that FoodTV is usually playing something moderately useless... like the 34th Annual Sugar Crystal Cookoff in Vegas or the 4974676th episode of Unwrapped.

I, as many of you, watch Alton Brown's Good Eats and will watch his new show when it starts airing. I also, I'll admit it, will watch Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals if an episode is on when I turn on the TV. I loved the original Iron Chef episodes, and I watch Iron Chef America (yay Julie Powell and Jeffrey Steingarten judging in the same episode, I think it made me giddy).

But what else is there that plays regularly? I think I've seen every rerun of A Cook's Tour and I do Tivo for the new episodes of No Reservations. I've started watching Andrea Immer when I see her show on the Travel Channel.

But I keep reading these passing mentions of "I still like PBS the best." Which cooking shows that PBS airs do you like? The few I've caught I've been less than impressed with, but I think I'm just not catching the "right" ones.

Suggestions please!

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  1. My favorites are, in no particular order:

    1. Charlie Trotter's The Kitchen Sessions
    2. Whatever show Jacques Pepin is doing (latest was Fast Food, My Way)
    3. Rick Bayless' show on Mexican cooking
    4. Mark Bitman's show
    5. Barbecue University (BBQU -- not Barbecue America)
    6. America's Test Kitchen
    7. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Lidia's Family Table.

    I've found that the food line-up on PBS varies tremendously, depending on where you live.

    11 Replies
    1. re: Darren72

      Hmmm, well I'm living in San Francisco for the next 2 weeks (I know there are about 3 different channels that are all flavors of PBS here). And then I'm decamping down to Los Angeles. So, suggestions for either area would be good for me :)

      1. re: Kuisine

        I would go to the website and see which programs are on which stations. There are a number of different PBS stations here in Chicago as well, and some shows are one one but not others.

        In the Bay Area, my guess is that the Jacques Pepin show, Barbecue University, and America's Test Kitchen are definitely on, since these are very popular shows. The others may be on also.

        Also, when I lived in the Bay Area, there was a good show on Bay TV called Bay Cafe ( The host, Joey Altman, would bring a local chef on to the show to make one of his/her restaurant dishes. I liked it a lot.

        1. re: Kuisine

          The shows listed above your response are ALL on local PBS stations in SF. There's KQED, KTEH, KCSM and one from Sacto. All have much better cooking shows than ANYTHING on the Food Network...well maybe not better than Mr. Oliver.

          Dunno specifically about LA, but KCET is one PBS station down there and others from surrounding communities must exist.

          I used to love Nigella when she was on the Style Network. Just fast forward through them commercials.

        2. re: Darren72

          "I've found that the food line-up on PBS varies tremendously, depending on where you live."- This is definitely true, I've lamented over this fact many times! But, I should think that San Fran and LA would have no problems getting the "good" shows. Also, Sara Moulton should be coming to PBS soon, so you'll be able to catch that if you're interested.

          Also, I have a feeling she won't be for everyone, but I like "Living Fresh" on FitTV.

          1. re: Katie Nell

            I don't think it is a matter of getting the "good" shows. When I lived in the Bay Area, they didn't get Charlie Trotter. (Maybe they do now.) I think in Chicago we get all of the shows by Chicago chefs.

            1. re: Darren72

              By "good" shows, I mean any cooking shows... we get very few here, and I know a lot of other cities get quite a bit.

              1. re: Darren72

                Charlie Trotter used to be on PBS in the Bay Area...this was a long time ago, though. I really enjoyed that show but Charlie takes a bit of getting use to. Rick B. also. I can hardly stand to watch him, but I love his philos. and his cooking and ideas so much that I overcome the wincing.

              2. re: Katie Nell

                Honestly, I don't currently watch any cooking shows at all and haven't for some time, but I'll definitely be looking out for Sara Moulton's new show when it comes to PBS. I don't know when it starts or what the format will be, though. I always enjoyed her most on "Cooking Live," even if she did get flustered and slip up sometimes, because it was so much more three-dimensional than many one-chef-in-the-kitchen cooking shows.

                I read an interview with her (I wish I could remember where) in which she said that Food TV pushed her out and didn't renew her contract because she doesn't fit their currect ideal demographic, which is, believe it or not (well, it actually makes sense in a way) something like males 15-34 years old.

                1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                  Yes, I got to meet her last year at a cooking demo here in KC, and she definitely tells the truth about how she feels about Food Network and a certain cook with the initials RR! She said that her new show should be airing in the Fall, and she also said that she doesn't know why FN is still airing her show... I thought that was odd.

                  1. re: Katie Nell

                    So what did she have to say about Little Miss Nauseatingly Perky??


                    1. re: Katie Nell

                      In response to Davwud:

                      She said, "I don't like her very much!" ;-) She did go on to say, though, that she is happy that people are getting into the kitchen more, regardless of what they are cooking, or something to that extent.

              3. One of my favorite all time cooking shows airs on the travel channel at wierd times, Ive seen it recently at 11 am, 2 pm 4 am etc. But deff worth watching if you can find it is Great Chefs of the World.

                1. I have to say, the only show that I both enjoy watching, and have found to have bullet proof recipes (quick, easy, not too many ingredients, casual and fancy) is Barefoot Contessa with Ina Garten. I was lucky enoght to run into her at the Fancy Food Show in SF in Feb. at a Starbucks. She was their launching a line of cookware, and was so kind and gracious. It cemented her as "must watch" in my mind.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Belly DuJour

                    Good point, I don't see her show on very often so it slipped my mind, but I do like her when I see her. She reminds me of my mom. Ummm, except we never lived in the Hamptons, or had a catering business, or an absolutely ginormous garden. So really, I guess they just look a little alike and they both cook :)

                    1. re: Kuisine

                      Likewise, she looks a little bit like my mom, save the house, garden and catering business!

                    2. re: Belly DuJour

                      The OP was particulary interested in PBS shows, or shows not on Food TV. Any favorites in that category?

                      1. re: Darren72

                        With regard to PBS shows, for me, I love America's Test Kitchen, and am also a huge Sarah Moulton fan, so can't wait to see what she comes up with. I believe she is launching on PBS, no?

                    3. I enjoy "Ham on the Street" on the Food Network, very silly, and "Taste of America" on the Travel Channel which is similarly goofy. Guess I'm a sucker for cute guys and humor!

                      1. I like Martin Yan on PBS. Love to watch him chop!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: melly

                          I love the man for making it appealing to cook Chinese food and his knife skills but his dishes aren't as inspiring or good as it used to be back ten years ago.